Episode 40
July 5, 2022

Dude, Just Make a Language!

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Ned’s choice of topic: Tolkien’s essay “A Secret Vice.” Originally prepared as a lecture called “A Hobby for the Home” for an Oxford literary society in 1931, “A Secret Vice” is now regarded as one of the two most key essays, along with “On Fairy-Stories” of Tolkien essentially reflecting on his own work and what drove his creative interests. His training and work as a philologist grew out not only an interest in languages in general but in creating them for his own interest, and it’s long been clear that his early development of the Elvish languages in particular are what led him to start creating poetry and prose set in his legendarium to begin with. At the same time, the time and place of the essay’s creation demonstrates that a lot of his stance involves assumptions that wider linguistic scholarship has since moved on from. What was the popular impact of constructed languages such as Esperanto on Tolkien’s own belief in how such languages could thrive? Why is it important to distinguish between Tolkien’s favored belief in sound symbolism and the separate school of structural linguistics? What were some of the evident biases that Tolkien’s own favored languages – not to mention his native language, English – created in terms of what he wanted to create himself with his own original tongues? And just what was it with his way of dancing around actually talking about what interested him in the subject instead of simply flat out stating it?

Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. To see the stars is to name them.

We do not recommend getting into an accident with a forklift, but if you do, watch MST3K, listen to It’s Just a Show, and sing along with a song.

The Tolkien Society’s report on the new forthcoming Tolkien book The Fall of Númenor. (And as we say later, check out our Aldarion and Erendis episode.)

Amazon promos ahoy.

There were a variety of Empire magazine stories; this was the main one online, plus Lenny Henry on the Harfoots. (And Celebrimbor…the newscaster?)

Leith McPherson on being the dialect coach for The Rings of Power.

Jamie Wilson and Lindsey Weber on the Orcs in The Rings of Power. (Relatedly, our episode on orcs.)

Deadline’s announcement of the major voice casting for The War of the Rohirrim.

Philippa Boyens interviewed by TheOneRing.net on The War of the Rohirrim, including discussion of the new character Héra.

The critical edition of A Secret Vice, as listed on Dimitra Fini’s site. (Plus the informal launch, as she describes it, of the book at Oxford.)

Oriana’s 2019 Vox piece on conlangs.

You might have heard of GoldenEye. But are you invincible?

Constructed languages have been a thing then and now. Esperanto! Volapük! Novial!

Gertrude Stein and James Joyce: Modernists par excellence.

Sound symbolism and structural linguistics.

Finnish is very much its own thing.

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